You Are Not Your Past: Don't Let Your Failed Relationships Define You

by Stephanie Swain

To be frank, I can’t speak highly of my relationship history. In all honesty, I don’t even know if my past experiences count as "relationship history" or if they should just be referred to as an unfortunate series of events.

To make one thing blaringly obvious, relationships were not even happening for me — relations were.

I was unhappy, but I couldn't figure out how to change it. I would hide behind the “independent woman” mask and hope that no one would realize I couldn't actually imagine living the rest of my life in the state I was in.

I fell into a dark reality that caused me some potentially permanent mental struggles.

To be clear, I am not writing this to feel sorry for myself; I have accepted that everything that happens to me is at least partially my own doing. It takes two to tango, right?

I was rather self-destructive when it came to love, or at least when it came to my idea of love. So, I would gladly accept the transparent invites to "hang out" knowing damn well what I was getting myself into.

It is easy to settle for less than you deserve. Not all 20-somethings are looking for futures. Hell, many of us don't even know what we want for dinner, let alone in a potential life mate.

Commitment is the last thing on the majority of this generation's minds, and that is perfectly okay. We have a lot going on.

But, for those of us who aren't interested in the non-commitments, the one-night stands and the shallow encounters, things become a bit difficult. Some of us are just ahead of our time, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Now, obviously not everyone will agree with my opinion, and I understand that. I also understand that not everyone would endure the same experiences I've had.

But, for those who feel utterly defeated by the ways of the world, who fall into black holes of self-loathing because you just don't see any valid reason not to, and especially for those who dread being stuck in the exhausting routine of mild hope and crushing disappointment, there is a way out of the darkness.

Sure, these things beat you down. It is so easy to become defeated when you feel like you are trying so hard and ultimately, failing time and time again.

We don't all have the mental capacity to deal. I sure as hell didn’t. But, nothing will come along to change that for you if you are not willing to accept change as a possibility.

I am by no means suggesting you wait around for Mr. Right to come out of the woodwork and sweep you off your feet. Walt Disney did not write our lives; we must put on our adult hats and start being rational.

Speaking from experience, getting stuck in this “forever alone” mindset tends to weaken our faith in ourselves.

You develop unrealistic opinions of yourself and your worth, and you allow your past relationships to define you. Although this is entirely understandable, realize it is not the truth.

Remember, we are our toughest critics.

That being said, it’s time we start taking ourselves seriously. It is time we start knowing who we are, where we are, what we want and, most importantly, what we're worth.

You don't need someone to tell you what you deserve; you make the rules because this is your life and you are downright fabulous.

We must become our number-one fans.

Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of people out there who are already slaying this state of mind.

I could name quite a few personal friends of mine who straight-up don’t care for your opinion because they are too busy knowing their worth and killing it with confidence on a daily basis. To these friends, I say bravo.

Why try to force yourself into love or a relationship or worse? The best and most fulfilling relationship you can have is the one you develop with your changing, growing, adult self.

You need to love yourself like a child. You need to stop rejecting compliments. You need to accept that you have a killer personality and you're not changin' for nobody.

You need to accept you.

The confidence and comfort you will gain from self-acceptance is unlike anything else you will ever experience in this life. You'll become a more open person who is more accepting and understanding.

The more you love yourself, the more you allow others to love you for who you are, and the more likely you are to find something more genuine and rewarding than you could ever imagine.

You are not what has happened to you. You are what you choose to become, regardless of your past.

You are YOU, and you got this.